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Saturday, March 20, 2010

El Sandwich Mixto con Huevo

Ham & Cheese with Egg, Spanish Style:

Imagine eating a greasy, delightfully crisp grilled cheese with punctually salty ham and the perfectly cooked egg. Now imagine eating it at 3 am in an eerily bright and smoky little hole in the wall in Spain after a night of sangria, tequila and dancing. That is where el sandwich mixto con huevo really shines, especially paired with a plate of dangerously hot fries and that watery, sweet European "ketchup". But, don't let me dissuade you from enjoying this little gem of a sandwich anytime. One of these days I am going to make up a frilly, expensive version but for now let us pay homage to this everyday (or every night) sandwich of the people- and especially hungry college students looking for nosh. When I'm feeling particularly nostalgic I enjoy a glass of wine, something crisp and white, with my Sandwich Mixto con Huevo and I could be right back in one of the white plastic chairs in Salamanca my sophomore year of college.

Note on ingredients: This is literally the equivalent of a grilled cheese in the States as far as quality of ingredients goes. What is really important is the hot pan and a fair bit of butter so use whatever cheese you've got. Good deli-style American is your best bet (although I made one with Swiss and Virginia smoked ham and it was delicious).

Ingredients: (2 Sandwiches)
4 slices sandwich bread
1-2 tablespoon butter
4 slices good, salty ham
2 slices cheese
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

1. Heat a griddle or frying pan on medium heat. Toss in your butter and swirl to coat the pan or griddle.
2. Crack the two eggs in, being careful not to break the yolks (cracking the egg close to the surface of the pan helps).
3. Salt and pepper the eggs but don't disturb for 1-2 minutes. When the eggs are almost totally solidified flip them over and cook for another minute. You want the yolk almost totally cooked through but still just barely soft when you bit into it.
4. Remove the eggs from the pan and put in two slices of bread. If you want, add a second slice of butter and move the bread around a little to get them good and greasy. Top the bread with the ham followed by the eggs. Add a layer of cheese and the remaining slices of bread.
5. Check the bread by lifting it up with the edge of your spatula. It should be golden, slightly darker around the edges. When the sandwiches are ready, flip.
6. Once the sandwich has been flipped, and this is essential to a good, hole in the wall sort of sandwich, press down firmly with your spatula. Turn off the burner and let the sandwich finish heating through.
7. Remove from the pan and get ready to enjoy. Make sure you eat it crispy and piping hot! Buen Aprovecho

For some interesting commentary on this simple sandwich (and the etymology of the term "bikini" as it is also known) see "Notes from Spain" sandwich

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